Being an independent graphic designer and running your own business from home is the best life ever – at least that’s what we think. Here is a guide to the hardware, software and back-up used based on the answers from my representative sample of graphic designers.
Further fascinating results from this survey can be found in these two recent posts:
So, let’s get going. Remember, this sample of graphic designers were taken from every continent of the world and included hugely successful designers as well as people who were just starting out.
Graphic Designer’s Hardware
Hardware-wise, our designers came from both Mac and PC denominations of computer worship with the majority being Apple fans.
Designers have to regularly update both their hardware and software so the answers I got depended on where the designers were in their update cycle. For example, I had been struggling along with an old 21″ white iMac with a 2.16 GHz processor, 2GB RAM and a 250GB hard disc. And I’ve recently purchased a 27″ iMac with a 3.2 GHz, 4GB RAM and a 1TB hard disc – and I’m loving the extra speed and power.
For example, here is Steven Tiano‘s set-up: “I currently work on a 24-inch iMac with a second 23-inch Apple CInema Display. The iMac is a 2.93 GHz Intl Core 2 Duo machine with 4GB of RAM and a 640 GB hard drive.”
Having multiple screens or machines is quite popular. For example, Jon Phillips uses a 13inch Mac Book Pro (2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 4GB of RAM) and with an external Samsung monitor. David Airey has a 27″ iMac and a 15″ MacBook Pro.
Many Mac people have PC laptops and vice versa!
The designers who have PCs really know how to get the most out of them. Take Andrew Keir for example, who has a 2.6GHz Quad Core CPU with 12GB of RAM. This beast is security cabled to his desk. Another set up belongs to Carmia Cronje who has an Intel Celeron CPU 2.6GHz Dual-core with 2GB RAM and a Samsung 17″ TFT LCD monitor.
Lucas Tetrault, however, built his own PC running Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit with an Intel i7 processor, 6GB of DDR3 RAM, Nvidia GTX Video Card and a 1TB hard drive.
Phones & Tablets
Many designers listed smart phones, iPhones and iPads as part of their hardware arsenal as they dip their toes into app development. Xcode is being used to develop Mac apps.
Graphic Designer’s Software
Adobe Creative Suite & graphics programs
No surprise which was the common suite of programs that designers used! Adobe’s Creative Suite was being used by all of our designers in some incarnation, the most popular being the Design Premium CS5. But Quark, CorelDRAW X5 and Sketchbook Pro 2 were also mentioned.
Photoshop was the most popular graphics/image editor although some web designers much preferred Fireworks. One of our designers used Pixelmator a Mac image editor that’s much cheaper than Photoshop. Another alternative is GraphicConverter. Downsize is a utility that can batch resize images in bulk.
Some of us splash out on the MS Office so as to read and create Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents. Whereas some of us make do with the open source OpenOffice.
For font management Suitcase Fusion was the most popular.
Many of our Mac users utilised Time Machine with some sort of external disc drive (usually 500GB or 1TB). For those of you that aren’t familiar with this utility it automatically saves up-to-date copies of everything on your Mac. Plus, if you ever delete or save over a file you can’t retrive, you can easily “go back in time” to recover it using one of the most exciting interfaces I’ve ever seen!
One of our designers had a Time Capsule which is an automatic wireless backup for your files. Available in 1TB and 2TB models.
Not all of our designers had off-site back-up as a precaution against fire or theft. But the ones who did use the following:
- Dropbox Dropbox allows you to sync your files online and across your computers automatically. Ideal for cloud living!
- Mozy Founded in 2005, Mozy is “the world’s most trusted online backup service with more than 1 million customers backing up 70 petabytes of information to multiple data centres around the globe” according to their website.
- Backblaze Only $5 a month per computer for unlimited storage.
A huge thank you to everyone who participated. I learned a lot from this. So, as ever, heartfelt thanks to the following:
Lucas Tetrault from Phoenix Wave Portfolio
Lynne Venart from The Art Monkey
Matthew Harpin from Freelance Web & Logo Design
Michael King from Black Swan Image Works
Mike Smith from GUERRILLA
Randa Clay from Randa Clay WordPress Design
Ryan Scherf from Ryan Scherf
Stephen Tiano from Freelance book designer, page compositor & layout artist
Derek Kirk from creative web design
Andrew Keir from Melbourne graphic designer, Andrew Keir
Andrew Kelsall from Andrew Kelsall Design
Anne Swanson from Anne Swanson Graphic Design
Bob Raynor from Bob Raynor – Graphic Designer
Carmia Cronje from Clementine Creative
Chris Metzner from data visualization graphic designer
Craig Wilson from Craig Wilson
David Airey from David Airey, graphic designer
Douglas Bonneville from freelance graphic designer
Hernan Valencia from The Construct Creative
John O’Nolan from John O’Nolan
Jon Phillips from SpyreStudios
Justin Miller from Magnum Creative Group
Karen McDade from Omega Red
Kyle Richardson from Enrich Design
Lauren Krause from Creative Curio
Liam Swift from Attract Love to Your Brand
More to come
So that’s it … well not quite, there is one more entry in the questionnaire that I haven’t published. I left a “final thoughts” section at the end where I got some great entries. I’ll put them in a blog post together with a few more I can lay my hands on.
What do you think?
Are you a graphic designer who runs their own business or thinking of becoming a self-employed work-from-home type? What did you think of this survey? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.